America

Federal Pay Freeze Surprises Union Leaders

Earlier today President Obama announced a pay freeze for federal workers. He described it as the first in a series of steps aimed at "getting this deficit under control." The reaction from federal employee unions was not supportive.

As NPR's Brian Naylor reports, John Gage, head of the American Federation of Government Employees, called the pay freeze a slap in the face to federal workers.

"Two unfunded wars, stock market collapse and trying to solve this deficit by going after working people's salary — I just expected more from the Obama administration."

Colleen Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, hopes the Democratic-led lame-duck Congress will reject it.

"I think this was a surprise to an awful lot of people when this announcement came out today, and so we're going to work with Congress, and anyone else, to look at what all the options are."

Republicans, who will control the House starting in January, want much deeper cuts in government spending, and say a freeze is just the start. The next Speaker of the House, Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), welcomed Obama's decision in a statement highlighted by Frank James over on the It's All Politics blog.

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